It doesn't always hit the mark but there are plenty of enjoyable moments.
The company is a sixth form theatre group and their youthfulness is reflected in their mostly energetic and spunky performances. It's a great show for the company to do as it allows everyone to get involved. Their voices and characterisation are fine but inconsistent, although the range of some characters don’t quite match that of the actors playing them. The cast have the challenge of portraying characters that were originally cartoons, which can be difficult not to make sickening. We discover that it works best and is funniest when the characters become more like real people. Bronwen Davies Jones, as Sally, is a great example of this, as she is true to stereotype while leaving room for authenticity in her performance. Some of the showstopper numbers, for instance Suppertime, lack the required energy to leave a lasting impression, although Jonny McGuigan as Schroeder gives a great attempt at leading his number, Beethoven Day.
The show is wonderfully written, with montage sections stuffed full of one-liners and recurring jokes. It makes us giggle and the touching moments stand out too. Some inventive props and costume add to the comic strip theme to the show and direction is strong in places with some satisfying surprises. However, the cast just wasn’t strong enough to make full use of the show’s potential. Likewise, the choreography and harmony is too simple to be impressive.
Using backing tracks mean we get the full band and orchestra experience which otherwise wouldn't have been possible in a fringe venue but it makes the introductions to songs awkward and results in several false starts. Using only a piano keyboard instead would have made the accompaniment feel more organic and provided better support for the performers, while we wouldn't have noticeably missed out on the rest of the orchestration.
This is a clever show, performed by an enthusiastic company. It doesn't always hit the mark but there are plenty of enjoyable moments.